By Aabigayle McIntosh
The candidate for the United Progressive Party in the upcoming by-elections, Kelvin Shugy Simon, has once again criticized the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party.
During a speech to party supporters at the Du Bolans Playing Field, Simon accused former MP for St Mary’s South, Samantha Marshall, of deceiving the public and prioritizing the protection of her pension over her duties.
Simon also claimed that Marshall convinced the Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, to consider Senator Dwayne George, the ABLP’s caretaker for the area, as her replacement.
However, Simon found this statement confusing because Marshall had reportedly been actively campaigning in the community just the day before the announcement.
“What Senator Marshall is doing is singing for her pension, to qualify for a pension in Antigua and Barbuda as a politician you have to serve roughly 11 years, 2 terms in government, and an additional year.
“The first year for them was cut short by a year and a half and the second term was full so when you do the math, she still has about two and a half years to serve. She is now towing the line in order to get her pension,” Simon said.
He argued that the salary of an opposition MP in Antigua and Barbuda is not something to boast about, highlighting a breakdown in communication between the two.
“Four thousand, five hundred dollars per month, two thousand dollars for constituency allowance and seven hundred dollars travel allowance, and of all these monies that I just mentioned, they are taxes so I do not take home all.
“Before politics, I was a Barber and a good week in the Barbershop yielded at least $1,500.00, this amount by four is already my salary as an MP plus an additional $3,600 which I was making as a Guidance Counsellor in the Ministry of Education,” Simon shared.
He mentioned that he willingly opted for a lower salary to serve the people of St. Mary’s South. Additionally, he encouraged his fellow constituents to act with fairness and justice when the by-election is officially announced.
Meanwhile, Marshall cited family reasons as the reason for her departure and pledged to work closely with her successor.
Regarding the new candidate, Browne stated during the ABLP’s official launch that he was selected based on his love for his constituency and his ability to serve.
Former UPP member George, who was once a close ally, left the party after realizing that they were not prioritizing the needs of the people.
He made specific commitments to the people of St. Mary’s South, including employment opportunities, improved education, aid for fishermen and small businesses, and significant advancements in sports and road infrastructure.
Although Prime Minister Gaston Browne has not disclosed the exact date of the by-election, he has hinted that it will take place very soon.